Messy Play

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    Makes wonderful play dough which lasts for ages in little plastic containers

    Taking part in creative and messy play activities has numerous benefits for children’s learning and development. Children are active learners. They learn through play. Play allows them to make sense of the world around them. Through play, children learn to make choices, solve problems, and make plans. Learning processes grow and concepts develop. Play makes learning exciting and interesting. It ensures that children remember what they learn.

    Messy play is particularly attractive because it stimulates many of children’s senses at once and because of the variety of materials available. Messy play offers an outstanding opportunity for children to grow and learn. Babies and toddlers may simply explore the materials and enjoy textures and smells. As pre-schoolers grow, they will begin to ask questions and experiment with the materials to find answers. 

    Each child will benefit in their own way and Messy play helps children to develop concepts - these concepts are the basis for later learning. As children roll and mold play dough, they learn about cause and effect - what happens when they squish it or roll it in their hands. They may practice counting, sorting, and grouping with the things they make with the dough. As they fill and empty containers and choose objects to use in the water table, they experiment with math and science concepts, like more and less, full and empty, float and sink. As they pour sand from cups, build sand castles, and add water to sand, they learn about physical concepts like the pull of gravity and the behavior of liquids and solids.

    Messy play activities support problem solving and prediction.  As children talk with each other and with adults while they participate in messy play, their language skills and vocabulary grow. In addition, messy play helps children develop large and small motor skills and eye-hand coordination as they dig in sand, pound and squish dough and clay and paint with brushes and fingers.

    Practitioners also have an important role in messy play. They can support children as they learn from play experiences. There are several ways to do this. First, in addition to basic materials such as sand and water, clay and paint, practitioners can provide props to enhance play. Cups of different sizes, funnels, strainers, and tubes add variety to the water and sand tables. Knives and strings for cutting and objects for making imprints enrich clay and play dough experiences.

    Practitioners can change the messy materials as well to provide variety. Adding food coloring or soap to the water can add variety to vary water play. Sand tables can hold rice or beans. Finger-paint can be changed by adding flavoring or sand or salt to change the smell or texture of the paint. Adults can also encourage the hesitant child to try the materials. In addition, adults can ask questions and make comments to help children think about and discuss what they are doing. “What will happen if...?” or “Do you think…?” can encourage a child to take the next step toward learning.  This will also sustain shared thinking and further encourage the child’s learning experiences. 

    To ensure that all materials are appropriate we have a messy play policy that lists age appropriate materials for all of our children to protect them from harm. Makes wonderful play dough which lasts for ages in little plastic containers

    1 Minute Play Dough
    [Not edible!]

    You will need:
    • ½  cup of salt 
    • 1 cup of flour 
    • 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar (Cream of Tartar is a natural powdered raising agent for use in scones, drop scones, soda bread and a wide range of other recipes) 
    • 1 tablespoon of oil 
    • 1 cup of boiling water (from the kettle) mixed with some food colouring (OR the contents of three blackcurrant dazzler fruit tea bags for lovely fruity rich purple) 

    What to do:

    Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and then mix vigorously with the hot water. Add glitter for a Christmas touch!
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